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The Storytelling within “500 Days of Summer”

500 Days of Summer is a film that was released in 2009, directed by Marc Webb and written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. The film tells the story of Tom and Summer and their relationship within 500 days. From the beginning of the film the narrator states that this is not a love story, but a story about love. I think about this line often when watching films that would fall under the romantic comedy genre. The film tells the story of their relationship out of order, constantly shifting back and forth between the highs of Tom and Summers relationship and the lows. It shows the progression of falling out of love with someone, something that we aren’t often shown in films, I think mainly because people think that people don’t want to watch the end of a relationship, they want to watch something that works out in the end.

The storytelling within this film is so brilliantly done. We see everything from Tom’s point of view. We see Summer and how he perceives her and their relationship from him. There is a scene in the film where Tom and Summer are laying in bed together and she is telling him about a personal and intimate dream that she has but halfway through Summer speaking we are cut off by the narrator telling us how special Tom feels to be listening to Summer break her walls down and feel comfortable and vulnerable enough to be letting him into her space but to even be telling him this. She soon says “I’ve never told anyone that before” and Tom couldn’t be more thrilled. But, we never hear what she was saying, and neither does Tom because he’s so focused on her opening up and what this means for their relationship. I think this scene really defines Summer and Toms relationship. Tom is so focused on what he wants to hear and being with Summer that he really is just ignoring her throughout the entire film, he’s only focusing on his wants.

From the beginning Summer tells Tom that she doesn’t want a real relationship, but from the moment Tom sees Summer he’s infatuated with her. A lot of times in our lives when we like someone, we mistake this care and like for infatuation. We paint this idea and picture of someone out in our minds and we ignore the real them because it doesn’t live up to the standards we have set for them. When Tom first meets Summer he tells his little sister about her and even though she’s about 12 she even knows Tom isn’t really in love. She tells him, “just because a girl has the same taste in music as you doesn’t mean she’s you’re soulmate”. Tom chooses to ignore all the things that Summer tells him because he truly believes he can be the one to make her change her mind.

One of the most iconic scenes in the film is when Tom goes to Summers apartment for a party she invites him to after they have broken up. The screen is split down the middle with one side showing the expectation of how Tom thinks the night is going to go and the other side showing the reality of how the night is really going to go. On the expectation side Tom and Summer spend the whole night together and essentially get back together. On the reality side however Tom spends most of the night alone and soon realizes that he is at Summer’s engagement party. This scene is so interesting to me for many reasons but the main reason is because of how real it feels. I can’t count how many times I’ve set up these expectations for myself with how a situation or event are going to go and then none it happens. We tend to expect the best, yet never really prepare for the worst. I think this scene shows us just how much of a dreamer and hopeless romantic Tom really is. I think it also shows an audience just how much he still didn’t listen to Summer when they broke up. He sees Summer inviting him to this party as a sign from the universe that they are destined to be together, when in reality she is just being nice and trying to be his friend, something they’ve always been destined to be.

Not every love story, is a love story, it really is just a story about love essentially, just like the narrator tells us. Not every person we have relationships in life is meant to stick around, they are just meant to teach us lessons. Like every event, every person comes into our life for a reason, no encounter is an accident or a mistake. I think this film shows how selfish we can be in relationships when we mistake our infatuation for someone as care and love. Tom was never really in love with Summer, he was in love with this idea he created of Summer, this is something I know I’ve done in the past and something I know many of my friends have done too. It’s not until this relationship with this person is over that we really reflect and look at back at who they really are and who we made them out to be to fit this idealistic person we created in our minds.

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